“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” was the title of the final episode of M*A*S*H, my favorite childhood television show. It could also be the title of some of the sadder days I’ve experienced as a veterinarian. A recent article in the New York Times addressed some of the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding end-of-life care and euthanasia for our pets.
Dogs will hit you over the head with a hammer (or a tennis ball, or frisbee) to let you know they’re out of sorts. Our feline friends are often more subtle when displaying signs of illness or pain than their canine counterparts. Something as simple as a change in sleep patterns, or as obvious as defecating on your living room floor, may be a message from Kitty that something is amiss with her health.
This is a great time to be a veterinarian. Particularly, in populated areas like suburban Philadelphia, we have a myriad of specialty and emergency referral practices to which we can send our clients and patients. Veterinary emergency clinics are a real boon for us general practitioners. Locally, there are many highly trained, eminently qualified emergency practitioners to whom I can refer clients when our hospital closes for the night. By not taking 24-hour emergency call, I can get the sleep needed to be alert, tuned-in, and clear-thinking during my appointments and surgeries.
Pets of all species require some amount of work from their owners, with certain pets (pet rocks) being much less work than others (thoroughbreds). The truth is, that even within a specific species, certain breeds seem to require more maintenance, and in turn, more expense than others. This is certainly a consideration when choosing which dog may be best suited for your family. I love all dog breeds and the variety they bring to veterinary medicine, but some dogs are more high maintenance than others, and may be best suited to experienced dog owners.